Галузевий державний архів СБ України (ГДА СБУ) / Sectoral State Archive of the Security Services of Ukraine (HDA SBU)

Author(s): Jan Bever (2019) – last update: 2019-03-07

Ukraine’s secret service’s archive is certainly a treasure for those interested in Ukraine’s history during Soviet times and the KGB in general. The further back in Soviet history, the more documents are available. The archive’s first documents date back to the Bolsheviks in 1917/18 in Ukraine (if earlier used as evidence, materials can be even older) and end with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Documents deal with individuals who the KGB or its predecessors MGB, Cheka and NKVD investigated. There is a particular focus on documents dealing with the Great Purge, the role of the KGB during the great famine in the Ukrainian SSR and the Soviets’ fight against Ukrainian nationalism. Ironically, the latter has turned out to be one of the best ways to study movements like the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), providing a great deal of sources. Being one of the few open former KGB archives, the SBU’s archive offers a collection of KGB guide books, which were sent to different Soviet republics.

Researchers interested in the late Soviet Union, especially the Brezhnev era, might find reports from the head of the Ukrainian KGB to the Ukrainian Council of Ministers and the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine a useful source (fond 16). Apart from regular (2-3 days) reports about the number of foreigners in the republic, these reports deal with potential threats within the Ukrainian SSR. These include reports about the safety of mines, production plants and infrastructure, environmental issues including the threats of nuclear power plants such as Chernobyl. Regular topics are threatening letters targeted against party and state officials and the publication of anti-socialist handouts and literature. The KGB had special interest in the Zionist movement in Ukraine, which it considered anti-socialist, as well as all kinds of Ukrainian nationalism (including the movement of the shestydesyaty). Also labelled as anti-socialist, there are several documents about the Hippie movement in Ukraine, also listed under the name of Bitlmanovs.

Researchers interested in these topics will not only find documents about incidents in Ukraine, but also about the dealings of the Ukrainian diaspora in North America, the United Kingdom or Western Europe and correspondingly international Zionist summits. Canadian foreign politics was of interest to KGB when connected to the Soviet Union and Ukraine in particular. The fond contains also reports about smuggling in the Odessa, Transcarpathian and L’viv region, illegal border violations, and some cases of currency speculation. Incidents of abuse of office and corruption are rare; however, they do exist. Fond 16 contains also regular reports about the atmosphere amongst the public. Researchers interested in the collapse of the Soviet Union might find documents of the last months before Ukrainian independence useful.


Site location:
Галузевий державний архів СБ України /
Sectoral State Archive of the Security Services of Ukraine
Вул. Золотоворітська 7 /
Vul. Zolotovorits’ka 7
01601 м. Київ /
01601 Kyiv
Україна /

For mail correspondence:
Галузевий державний архів СБ України /
Sectoral State Archive of the Security Services of Ukraine
вул. Малопідвальна 16 /
vul. Malopidval‘na 16
01601, м. Київ /
01601 Kyiv
Україна /

Email for general inquries: arhivsbu@ssu.gov.ua
Main tel.: +380442569296
Reading room tel.: +3800442558584
Fax: +380442531386

Opening hours:
Monday to Friday from 10am-5pm, except public holidays and internal holidays (ask archive’s staff).



How to Find the Archive Sites

The archive is located on vul. Zolotovoritska 7, 01601 Kyiv, a yellow building of the Security service of Ukraine (SBU), which is easily reached by the green metro line (Zoloty Vorota station) or with the red line (Teatralna station 10 minutes’ walk).

How to Plan a Visit and to Prepare for It

Most Western countries’ citizens can visit Ukraine for three months without a visa. Australians can obtain a visa on arrival for 15 days.


The easiest way to apply is to directly address the archive via e-mail, which, during summer holidays, it can take up to a week to receive a response. Applicants need to provide a scanned copy of their passport, a form about their personal data and their research topic. (PhD) Students will need to provide a reference letter issued by their home institution (preferably in Ukrainian). General information forms will need to be completed in either Ukrainian or Russian.

After having successfully registered online, archive users are required to make an appointment with the archive for their first visit. For each visit, researchers must present a valid passport to the guard at the entrance. Having provided passport details to the entrance guard, researchers are required to inform archive administration/secretary staff about arrival time. This can be done with the old telephone, opposite the guard’s door (sometimes the dial is stuck, press gently and it will work again). Archive visitors need to call 8584 for a member of staff and introduce themselves. Researchers will be accompanied to the reading room. The archive card must stay within the archive and must be shown to the guard each time a visitor enters or leaves.

Reading Rooms

The archive’s reading room is small and fits for about ten people. There are four PCs that users can use in order to view the archive’s digitalised materials. Laptops and cameras can be used; there are sockets for charging electronic devices. Wifi connection is not available.

Rules and Regulations in the Reading Rooms

There is a scanner, however, most users simply use their cameras to take photos of the materials given to them in paper form. Digital material can be copied to a hard drive once the user’s application, which lists their needed documents, is approved (this step takes a mere two minutes). Drinking water in the archive is tolerated and there are bathrooms close to the reading room.

Archive Databases and Online Finding Aids

There is an online guide to the archive in Ukrainian language, providing a broad overview of the archive’s fonds, sometimes promising more than there actually is (link to guide: http://www.cdvr.org.ua/sites/default/files/archive/putivnyk_ru.pdf ). Asking archive staff may be more useful.

PCs in the reading room have lists in Ukrainian with short descriptions of each fond’s opis, which generally are sufficient and very helpful if searching for a particular topic. These lists, however, cannot be found online.  Screening these documents for key words will quickly show which opis to order from the archive’s staff. Ordering means writing the requested opis numbers on a piece of paper. The archive’s staff will then create a folder with your name on the PC where they will save the digitalised files. As mentioned above, researchers will then have to take notes on special forms, indicating which delo they are looking for. Subsequently, staff will approve the list and copy the requested files onto the researcher’s USB stick. The archive’s director, Andriy Kohut, stated in an article that foreign researchers have the possibility to receive digitalised materials via e-mail. Information requests concerning repressions against relatives are prioritised over those concerning collaborators in the villages.

Practical Advice

The archive is located in the heart of Kyiv with a vast selection of restaurants, cafés and supermarkets nearby. The same applies to accommodation near the archive.

Further Information

The mentioned interview of BBC Ukraine with director Kohut can be found here (in Russian language): Vyacheslav Shramovich (08.11.2016), Arkhiv SBU: kak vpervye uvidet’ foto pradeda. BBC Ukraine

Citation Suggestion

Bever, Jan: Галузевий державний архів СБ України (ГДА СБУ) / Sectoral State Archive of the Security Services of Ukraine (HDA SBU), in: ESE Archives Guide: A Web Guide to East and Southeast European Archives, 2019 (2019-03-07), https://www.ese-archives.geschichte.uni-muenchen.de/?p=2233.